Holiday shoppers may have taken a breather after busy Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. However, the traffic in big box retailers, smaller format stores and carrier stores was strong.
According to weekly store checks by Caris, the iPhone 4S was in short supply across retailers, including Apple stores. In fact, even the Apple Web site lists all 4S models as available on a 1 to 2 week shipping lag, compared with other models that show as being in stock.
Caris said the iPhone 4S was approaching sellout status. Nationwide, the checks found that the Verizon iPhone 4S was just about a complete sellout, with waits expected for delivery at all stores. While most retailers still had the AT&T and Sprint versions in stock, suggesting that at present all supply is in the channel with full sell-through expected shortly.
Meanwhile, while the iPhone strength is quantifiable based on inventories, the brokerage said retailers also spoke of good sell throughs of the Samsung Galaxy S2 and the Motorola Droid RAZR, both of which remain premium phones (i.e. not free with contract renewals).
The retailers we spoke with also said other higher end products like the Samsung Galaxy S2 and Motorola Droid RAZR are selling well, due in part, we believe, to form and function, but also due to the iPhone supply shortages, analyst Scott Tilghman wrote in a note to clients.
Another Caris analyst, Craig Ellis, said Apple's iPhone 4S 16GB or 32GB was the best seller, across virtually all outlets, with 16GB/32GB stock-outs are seen at most Verizon stores and selectively at Apple stores in major metropolitan areas (i.e. New York City).
Following the iPhone demand with a meaningful gap were Samsung's Galaxy S2 (or Skyrocket) followed by HTC's Vivid at AT&T, the Galaxy S2 Epic at Sprint, the Galaxy S2 at T-Mobile, and Motorola's Droid RAZR and Droid Bionic at Verizon.
Meanwhile, Ellis said LG was barely visible though it's just-launched Nitro with strong HD performance could catch fire, and Blackberry was downplayed by associates in favor of Android devices.